Hood

The first in the twisted fairy tale series brought to life with sinister tales, mystery and suspense.

Little Red Riding Hood (or Hood to her immediate friends and family,) has just celebrated her fourteenth birthday when a series of mysterious murders happens...

Yet soon Hood is swept up into the investigation- trying hard to suss out who is behind it all. But as she delves deeper into the clues, she realises that the obvious is good; and the hidden is bad...

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2. Through the Shadows

As we advanced along the winding woodland path, the sun had risen high in the sky. It had always been like that in Glosne- one minute the sun was low and merely visible; then the next it was high in the sky, producing light that would hurt the blind mice's eyes. The trees were also alive; having managed to capture the gentle breeze within their leaves as they whispered to one another, peacefully swaying from side to side. Mornings in the forest was always the loveliest feeling you could experience. It made me feel younger somehow- despite barely having reached my proper teen years yet. Dobbin was still plodding along, his hooves producing a muted clinking as they met the dusty track. I turned to Ma, who held a warm smile on her face as she kept the contact between Dobbin and herself.

"What?" she asked, her face facing me slightly but her eyes facing forwards all the time.

"Nothing- I'm just loving it already," I admitted quite truthfully.

She sniggered, her mouth pulling into a grimace; "saddo."

"I am not!" I protested, but laughed as she looked at me with raised eyebrows, "well- there's a chance."

"A big chance," she corrected. Then she leaned towards me and kissed me on the cheek- "not really; you take after me. It's where you get your good looks from."

"Really?" I added, an air of cheek in my voice; "so what do I get from Pa then?"

She smiled again, "your wind."

"Not true."
" 'Tis."

I giggled, presumably giving up, "will Pa be there?"

"You'll have to find out."
My Pa was the local Wood-Cutter for our village; therefore he worked all over our tiny land. He was strong, tough, had a rough deep voice... and was the biggest sissy I know. He was like a toddler who had constantly been told that he couldn't have an ice cream. Whenever he came home from work- he'd have a tiny bunny plaster somewhere on his person, supposedly where he'd taken a huge chunk out of his finger, or his toe was so badly bruised that he didn't want to upset Ma and I. But despite his sad excuses, we knew that he was really the mardiest, largest man in the whole land. But we loved him all the same.

We had been walking for almost ten minutes, and the breeze had started to pick up slightly- occasionally blowing my hood from my head; much to genuine frustration. We were starting to get deeper into the forest. Whilst we live on the mere outskirts of Foern Forest- (or the Wimpy Woods as the "hard" children of our county like to call it-) Granny lived in the deepest part possible; so it was always a trek whenever we needed to see her. It wasn't the easiest journey to do for some sugar and a loaf of bread, as Ma had once ordered.

Around us, the dense forest had started to encage us- surrounding us with gloom from beyond the Birch trees. When I was young I used to burry my face against my Pa's shoulder, hiding from what I thought lurked in the shadows. But as I grew older I managed to overcome that fear. Now I stared into the forest; captured by its intensity and inspired by "the unknown." Of course, I didn't tell the other children of the village how much I enjoyed aimlessly looking into the wilderness; I'd get a reputation for being "a Gimp"- and that was most definitely not a name I wanted to live up to.

I had somehow taken myself into a deep trance, my eyes fixed on a certain spot in the forest for some unknown reason. If I stared closer, I could make out the outlines of the Rose Bushes and the body of trees. I was transfixed.

But then there was a moan. Not a moan made by a... human, but more of a growl. It sounded like it came from the deep valley's inside a stomach- that low growl which was more like a girdle. My heart collapsed and my stomach fell. I peered closer, my heart starting to race; deeper into the forest surrounding me; vulnerability and that old feeling of fear creeping up on me again.  What was that? My heart stopped. There was a slight movement, a figure shifting in the denseness; before disappearing into the darkness again. I wanted to turn away- to avert my eyes and save myself of any fright or hassle, but my brain didn't seem to be sending any signals to my eyes. It was like my subconscious was forcing me to watch it. I was paralysed.

"Hood? Are you ok honey?" I could hear my Ma speaking to me, yet nothing seemed to register. My eyes were fixated upon the unknown.

Then there was that same movement, and I could hear the grumble again, this time seeming louder than the previous.

"Hood? Honey? What's up?" My Ma's voice seemed concerned, worried.

I felt myself rising in my seat, almost standing up as I watched the wilderness. Suddenly, there was that grumble again; and two sky blue, sparkling eyes hinted with maliciousness shone through the shadows. The eyes were drawn into ovals- more like slits that round; and two deep black pupils filled most of the blue. Surrounding them, I swear I saw what looked like the outline of a head- a shaggy, dog-like head.

"Hood?"

All of a sudden, Dobbin stopped, letting out a nervous whinny as he shuffled about on his feet.

"Dobs?" my Ma asked; clearly oblivious to what was happening around her. The creature growled, this time louder. That was it. Dobbin reared in the air, his mane flaring and his old legs crooked with arthritis as they rose in the air.

"Dobbin!" my poor Ma cried; but Dobbin didn't pay any attention. He bolted, his legs accelerating forwards with unbelievable force; the cart jolting violently forwards and he galloped along the track, clearly wanting to be free of this strange creature lurking in the shadows. Through all my fright, I glanced back to where we had been just a few seconds ago. The eyes had gone. I whizzed round in my seat, looking at where Dobbin was taking us.

"Dobbin!" Ma cried again, but it was no use. Once Dobbin had been spooked; he wouldn't listen to anyone until he thought it was safe. His hooves had created a rhythmic thudding as they hit the ground in a little song-like fashion; his head heaving backwards and forwards with each lunge. I gripped onto the side of the cart, my hair flying behind me; all the while until Dobbin had decided it was safe to stop and slowed down into a fast-moving walk; his breathing heavy and rapid.

Ma looked at me, "well that would have covered some distance!"

I smiled weakly, the image of the creature replaying in my confused mind.

"What did you think happened?"

"I-I-" I stuttered, not knowing what actually happened myself, "I think it was....a."

"What's up? Wolf got your tongue?"
"Yes!" I exclaimed, making Dobbin jump a mile, "that's exactly what had happened. Ma, there was-" I had suddenly found my voice, but Ma had interrupted with her soft laugh.

"Hood- I don't think it was a wolf. You've probably just seen something and thought it was a wolf."
"No; I saw a wolf, Ma. Just like the one on my brooch." I held up my brooch to show her.

She examined it slightly, before laughing again, "ever heard of the Big Bad Wolf?"
I looked at her puzzled, pondering her jokey air- "yes."
"Ever thought it wasn't true?"
"Well-"

"Exactly," she finished, "there's no such thing. Just a tiny little lie told to children to stop them from wandering away in the forest. You know yourself that Wolves only live in Flecne."
"Yeah...well."
"Hood. Don't go on about it. It's probably a few kids from the village having a laugh or something. Just forget about it love and enjoy your birthday; look- we're here now."

I turned forwards and spotted my Granny's petite cottage emerging from within the bracken. We had arrived.

 

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